Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Path to Wisdom

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." -Confucius

I've been thinking a lot lately about my personal growth in regards to writing. So this quote struck me because I could see myself and my writing journey in it. In fact, I think it applies to many writers.

At one point, we try to learn by imitation, because, as Confucius says, it is the easiest. I remember myself in junior high, writing novels that were absolute rip offs of the book I had just finished reading. You should see the 1984 clone I wrote in seventh grade. Shameless. But, did I learn? Sure. Does imitation alone get you there? No.

Learning by experience, the bitterest. Oh, how well I understand this statement. Last summer, I was burning with the desire to make it. To get there. I had a book that I thought was great and I was raring to go. I plunged into querying with wild hopes and enthusiasm. Oh sure, I edited the thing, a few times even. I felt like I was putting the best product out there. But alas, I wasn't ready, not truly ready. And as a result, I faced bitter disappointment.

This year has been one of reflection for me. And I don't so much mean sitting and meditating about myself as a writer, my writing, and so forth (although as I've said before, I do spend a great deal of time pondering.) To me, reflection as related to writing simply means taking ones time. Whereas with Midas I was so fired up just to try and do it, with Searcher, I've spent over a year now working to make it the best I can. This has involved reading books on writing. Making long notes in my Moleskine just to analyze my progress. And of course, editing and editing and editing until my eyes bleed.

And you know, as tired and worn out as I have felt about it sometimes, I'm sure that I've grown. Am I there? Have I learned all I need to learn? Of course not. But I feel that at the very least, I have become, as Confucius would say, wise.


Natalie Whipple said...

Great quote. That Confucius guys is one smart dude.

You have grown so much, Ren. We all have. Thanks for the reminder.

Kasie West said...

Great quote. And so true. It's amazing how far a year in writing can take you. I believe and hope I'll see growth every year until I am atrociously brilliant. :) If I've learned one thing (which actually I've learned quite a few but in this instance I'm going to focus on one) it is that patience is key to this industry. It's been a hard lesson for me because I want things now (or even better--yesterday).

Candice said...

You are very wise. Just look at this introspective post! And though I haven't read Midas, I feel safe saying your writing must have matured because Searcher is brilliant! Maybe the reflection with make the experience of querying less bitter this time.

Miriam S.Forster said...

Wiser and wiser all the time! :)

Odd coincidence, I read this post right before I came over here:

This is my favorite line:

"Publishing will be here (for the foreseeable future, anyway, *gulp*) while you work on your writing. Focus on that and we’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready."

Jessie Oliveros said...

I want to read your 1984 rip-off. Maybe I'm writing my Midas now, but I'm eager (probably too eager)to get it out there since it is about the end-of-time prophecy and that is fast approaching. BEWARE 2012! I hope you're scared.

melane said...

I love the quote. It makes me really think about where I'm at on this writing journey. I'm just starting out, so I hope I can learn patience.

Renee Collins said...

Natalie-It's true. We MoMo's have come a long way. :)

Kasie-atrociously brilliant—hehe. :)

Candice-Ah, such kind words. Well, I certainly hope all of my hard work will pay off.

Miriam-So true. This is a notion that I have had to repeatedly tell myself. (But there's always that gulp, isn't there?)

Jessie-And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it will take everyone a year of much pondering. You've taken more time on the first draft. That counts for sure.

Melane-It's so hard to keep the right perspective. I struggle with it all the time. But some day, we'll all get there. :)

sraasch said...

Very nice, Ren. It is great to take a step back every once in awhile and analyze just how far we've come. The results often give us the boost to keep going :)

Lady Glamis said...

This post REALLY hit home for me, Ren. Really. And you know why. We will all get there in our own time. I have more patience now than I have in my life.

Natalie said...

There are always things to learn, aren't there? Often I feel like I have a pretty good handle on my life and then I realize I have SO MUCH room for improvement. I hope your dedication pays off eventually. :)

Renee Collins said...

Sara-Definitely about it giving the boost to keep going. I have to constantly remind myself of how far I've come.

Michelle-We will! This is the test of endurance, but the results will be well worth it. (I hope.)

Natalie-So true. That's why it's so good to reflect every once in a while. See where we've come, where we need to go.